Things to do… On arrival to Korea

13 05 2010

If you are coming from India then the first thing you need to do is that convert your Indian money to dollars. You cannot direct convert Rupee to Korean Won while in India. If you are carrying huge amount then you can carry travelers check which can be en-cashed in any of the banks out here.

The day you land in Korea you need to do the following things:

  1. Convert your dollars to Korean Won at the airport.
  2. Keep some coins with you to make calls from a public phone.
  3. Make sure someone is coming to receive you from your office.
  4. If no one is coming then  you can go to the bus terminal and take the bus to your destination. The executives at the bus terminal are very helpful. You get limousine and city buses to Seoul and other places in Korea. Avoid taking cab / taxi on all costs. They are very expensive.
  5. On reaching you can buy a T-Money card.  Go to any 7-11 store and say “Yogiyo, T-Money Cardu Chuseyo”. It will cost you around 3000 won ($3) and you then need to recharge it by 10,000 won so you can use it for your day to day transit through Subway lines and Buses. T Money card can also be used for paying Taxi Fares, making calls from a public phone and buying things from 7-11 shops. You can recharge you T-Money card at any Subway Line station or in a 7-11 shop.
  6. Make sure you apply for your Alien Card in the first week of your arriving to Korea. You will be able to open your bank account and procure a cell phone only if you have a registration card. For Alien Card Registration you’d require your office registration document – Mandatory and 2 passport size photographs.
  7. Next you can purchase an International Calling Card to help you make calls back home. International Calling cards are available in 7-11 shops. For India you need to ask that you need calling cards for Indo (India is referred to as Indo in Korea).
  8. Get a subway map from the tourist information center. It will be extremely helpful to you in the first few weeks in Korea.
  9. Make sure you get a copy of Lonely Planet Phrasebook or any other phrasebook with basic phrases to help you communicate in Korea. People don’t speak English here. So it would be wise to invest in one of these phrasebooks available easily in various bookshops in India. You can order it online from Landmark.
  10. If you are bringing your laptop from India then your 3-pin charger might not work. You’d need a 3-pin to 2-pin adapter for charging your laptop which is easily available in any electronic shop in Korea. If you visit a mall then it is available in the electronic section.
  11. Another thing which you could possibly look at investing in is a rice cooker. If you are planning to cook at home then it is a must. I am not talking about the pressure cooker from India, for cooking rice you would need an electronic rice cooker. And if you are a bachelor then you have to purchase one at all cost in Korea.




Is Seoul, Korea Expensive…

11 05 2010

… well that depends upon where you coming from. If you are coming from US, UK, Australia or any other developed nation then you would find Korea much much cheaper. But if you are coming from a developing country like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal etc. then it is definitely expensive as compared to your home country.

For this article I’d comparing the expenses with Mumbai, India. First, we will talk about accommodation. As I come from Mumbai I feel the house rent in Seoul is equivalent to Mumbai rentals.  For Rs. 20,000 to 25,000 you might get a 1 BHK flat in Andheri, Powai area of Mumbai where as in Seoul you might get a studio apartment or a house with 2 rooms for Rs. 20,000 ($500). So rent wise I feel Seoul is not that expensive.

Food, is definitely expensive. You can easily find Indian grocery here but you would end up paying twice or thrice of the printed price (MRP). An happy meal in Mc Donalds would cost you Rs. 200/- ($5) and dinner in any Indian Restaurant for two would set you back by Rs. 1000-12000/- ($30).

Clothes are cheaper. You would find decent clothing for Rs. 200 – 400 ($5-$10) (not branded) at Dongdaemun, Namdaemun area. Seoul could be like a paradise for females interested in shopping clothes and accessories. And trust me you would get the best designs, fabric, patterns, cuts n shades over here. Branded clothes are way too expensive.

Books, are expensive, almost double the price than what you would pay at Landmark or Crossword in India. So pack your fiction collection while coming to Korea.

Medicines, and a visit to Doctor is expensive too. A visit to a general physician would be anywhere between Rs. 100-400/- ($3-$9) and medicines would starts from Rs. 50/- ($1) onwards provided your company have covered you for Health Insurance.

Public Transport is again expensive as compared to Mumbai. The minimum distance in Subway or Bus is almost Rs. 40/- ($1) whereas in Taxi it is Rs. 100/- ($3).

Mobile phone is slightly expensive. A prepaid phone (including secondhand handset) would cost you Rs. 400/- ($10) per month whereas a new postpaid phone would cost you approx. Rs. 800/- ($20) per month for their services. International calling cards are cheaper. For Rs. 800/-  ($20) you would get approx 300 minutes. And a VOIP service would cost you Rs. 800/- ($20) for 1000 minutes.

Internet is cheaper, much much cheaper than India. For Rs. 1600/- ($40) per month you get unlimited download and crazy speed.

Electricity, Gas, Heater, Water etc is equivalent or may be cheaper than Mumbai. It would come down to Rs. 1500-1600 ($40) per month depending upon the usage. But during winter the bill shoots up to almost Rs. 4000/- ($100) per month if you use the heater a lot.

Fitness is free if you get up early in the morning and go running to parks or go for hiking on weekends. Some parks have machines for workout which can be used for free. But if you have to join some Gym / Sauna then it might workout a bit expensive than Mumbai.

Haircut, would cost around Rs. 300 – Rs. 400 ($7-$10) for men and Rs. 400 – Rs. 600 ($10 – $15) for women.

Maids are appointed by hour. And they do all household cleaning, ironing etc. in that hour. For an hour of services they charge around Rs. 400 ($10) so instead of calling them everyday people call maids once a week. For detailed information on Maid Service you can check this article on KMK’s blog.

Entertainment can be expensive depending upon where you want to go. A movie ticket would cost you Rs. 350/- ($10) per head. And popcorn and all would cost you somewhere between 100-200 rs ($2-$5). Parks are mostly free but some might charge you for the entry if it is well maintained. Art galleries and museums would charge you some entry fee.

Education for kids is expensive and is a different topic of discussion altogether. But lot of kids study in Korea. So may be I am not the right person to answer this.

Well thats about it…. if there is anything else specific you want to know then just put a comment and I’ll find it out for you..  For more details you can also check my previous article on Cost of Living in Seoul, Korea.





Lost in Translation

3 03 2010

If this is the first time you are visiting Korea and you are planning to stay here for a long time then it is important for you to visit the Seoul Global Center.  SGC was launched recently keeping in mind the problems faced by foreigners who come to Korea for job or a short visit.

The common problem faced by every foreigner coming to Korea for the first time is that they get lost in the Translation. They cannot speak Korean and most Koreans cannot speak English. So at that moment they need a mediator and that is where SGC comes into picture. Not necessarily to help you in your day to day translation but to help you get settled.

SGC can help you in many a ways. They can help you in resolving your conflicts, teaching you Korean language, give you some orientation on Korean Culture, help you in buying a mobile, making new friends etc. etc.

You can visit their website for more information: http://global.seoul.go.kr/

And you can also read their blog where they have very informative article: http://www.seoulcityblog.com/